Joseph O. Fletcher
|Joseph Otis Fletcher|
May 16, 1920|
|Died||July 6, 2008
|Education||University of Oklahoma
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
University of Alaska (Ph.D. 1979)
|Known for||Polar explorer|
|Spouse(s)||Caroline Sisco Howard (m. 1949)|
|Parents||Clarence Bert Fletcher (1884-1944)|
Fletcher started studying at the University of Oklahoma and then continued his studies in meteorology at Massachusetts Institute of Technology. After graduation, he entered the U.S. Army Air Corps and eventually became the deputy commanding officer of the 4th Weather Group, United States Air Force, stationed in Alaska.
He married Caroline Sisco Howard on October 15, 1949.
On March 19, 1952, his team landed with a C-47 aircraft, modified to have both wheels and skis, on a tabular iceberg in the Arctic Ocean and established a weather station there, which remained manned for 22 years before the iceberg broke up. The station was initially known just as "T-3", but soon renamed "Fletcher's Ice Island".
On May 3, 1952, pilot William P. Benedict and Fletcher as co-pilot flew that plane to the North Pole, becoming the first humans to land there and the first humans (together with scientist Albert P. Crary, who flew with them) to set foot on the exact geographical North Pole. (However, some sources credit this achievement instead to a Soviet Union expedition that landed there on 23 April 1948.)
Fletcher left the Air Force in 1963. In later years, he held various management positions in meteorological institutions, including a post as director of the NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR).
He retired in 1993. In 2005, he was awarded the honorary membership of the American Meteorological Society.
- "Joseph Otis Fletcher". Retrieved 2012-11-24. "Joseph Fletcher was born outside of Ryegate, Montana, on May 16, 1920 the son of Clarence Bert Fletcher and Margaret Mary Mathers. ..."
- "Meteorologists To Hear Colonel". Baltimore Sun. September 18, 1952. Retrieved 2012-11-24. "Joseph O. Fletcher, deputy commanding officer of the 4th Weather Group, United States Air Force, will address the first meeting of the Baltimore chapter of the ..."
- Mark Nuttall (2012). Encyclopedia of the Arctic. "The history of US drifting stations began with the T3 station, set up on an ice island in March 1952 by Joseph O. Fletcher of ..."
- The original article in the The Polar Times stated that Fletcher was the pilot, but in the Fall/Winter 1997 issue of the Polar Times, following a personal communication from Mr. Fletcher, a correction appeared stating that Benedict had been in charge of that flight. This is also confirmed by the interview Brian Shoemaker conducted with Fletcher in 1997 (link below).
- Concise chronology of approach to the poles, Scott Polar Research Institute